Mood Disorders


What is a Mood Disorder? 

A mood disorder is a mental health condition that mainly affects your emotional state. People with mood disorders often experience long periods of extreme emotional highs and lows. There are a few different types of mood disorders, but two of the most common types are depression and bipolar disorder.

Mood disorders can cause long periods of sadness, anger and stress that overwhelm your life. But you don’t have to face these symptoms alone. At Mercy, we’re here to help you feel physically and emotionally healthy. Our behavioral health specialists can evaluate your symptoms and develop a personalized treatment plan based on what you need.

Types of Mood Disorders

While feeling down is very common, depression severely impacts how you feel, think and act. It causes feelings of sadness and a loss of interest in things that once brought joy. People who are depressed often experience a variety of emotional and physical problems or difficulty doing everyday tasks. 

Though less common than depression, bipolar disorder is another mood disorder we frequently address. Bipolar disorder involves intense mood swings from extreme lows (depression) and highs (mania). These mood swings impact daily life and can strongly influence how you act.

While premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is fairly common among menstruating women, PMDD is a severe form of premenstrual syndrome. It can cause both physical and behavioral symptoms which make daily life difficult the week before menstruation, but PMDD symptoms typically get better with the onset of menstruation.

Individuals with Intermittent Explosive Disorder (IED) experience sudden episodes of impulsive, aggressive, violent behavior or angry verbal outbursts that are out of proportion to the situation. Road rage, domestic abuse or throwing and breaking things can be signs of this disorder.

The use of drugs and alcohol can cause mood disorders as well. Depression and bipolar are some of the most common mood disorders associated with substance use because substances can change how you feel, think and act. 

Causes of Mood Disorders

No single cause is known, and there may be several factors that contribute to mood disorders. These disorders are most likely caused by an imbalance of brain chemicals, which can be related to physical illness or the use of certain medications. Difficult life events and trauma may also contribute to mood disorders. 

There are also some genetic risk factors – for instance, women are more likely than men to develop a mood disorder. The chance of developing a mood disorder is also higher if you have a family history of mental health conditions.

Mood Disorder Symptoms

Depending on several factors, like your age and the type of mood disorder you have, you may have a wide range of possible symptoms. Common signs of mood disorders include:

  • Constant feelings of sadness or anxiousness
  • Overwhelming sense of hopelessness
  • Low self-worth or feeling inadequate
  • Relationship problems
  • Loss of interest in activities that once brought pleasure
  • Excessive guilt
  • Sleep issues
  • Changes in appetite and/or weight
  • Decreased energy
  • Lack of concentration or difficulty making decisions
  • Frequent physical discomfort from headaches and/or stomachaches
  • Irritability, hostility or aggression
  • Suicide ideation 

The symptoms of mood disorders overlap with many other mental health conditions, so it’s important to seek a professional diagnosis. Your Mercy primary care provider can help assess your symptoms and direct you to specialized care. We want to make sure you get the best treatment for your needs.

If you or a loved one is feeling depressed and experiencing thoughts of suicide, call 911 or go nearest Emergency Room for immediate help.

How to Diagnose Mood Disorders

Symptoms of mood disorders are treatable, and our behavioral health specialists are here to help you find the right diagnosis and treatment. They can develop a personalized treatment plan that gets you back to living your best life. To diagnose mood disorders, your Mercy provider or behavioral health professional may: 

  • Perform a physical exam
  • Review your medical history and symptoms
  • Order lab work or other tests

Treatment Approaches for Mood Disorders 

Mood disorders can be treated through a combination of treatments such as counseling, therapy and medication. At Mercy, we’ll work with you to develop a treatment plan specific to your needs.

A Mercy therapist works with you in counseling sessions to discuss ways to manage your symptoms. Types of psychotherapy for mood disorders include:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) – CBT teaches you skills to manage negative thinking patterns & can be highly effective for affective disorders. CBT therapy is often used to treat anxiety and can be done individually or in a group of people with similar issues.
  • Interpersonal therapy – IPT for mood disorders focuses on changing your relationship patterns, rather than the associated symptoms. It's based on the idea that personal relationships are often at the center of psychological problems.
  • Light therapy – This type of therapy treats major depressive disorder with seasonal patterns (previously known as seasonal affective disorder or SAD).  The treatment involves exposure to artificial light sources to stimulate brain chemicals.

Medications can be used to treat mood disorders and are often used in combination with psychotherapy. Typical medications include antidepressants, mood stabilizers and antipsychotics. Your Mercy doctor or behavioral health professional will discuss your options, including the benefits and risks. 

Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) is considered highly effective for the treatment of major depression and bipolar disorder. This treatment involves a brief electrical stimulation of the brain while the patient is under anesthesia.

ECT is typically given by a team of medical professionals including a psychiatrist, an anesthesiologist, and a nurse or physician assistant. It’s normally done as an outpatient procedure.

Some people with depression also benefit from healing therapies used along with regular medical care. These additional therapies are known as complementary or integrative therapies. Mercy Integrative Medicine focuses on your emotional and spiritual well-being through a variety of techniques like meditation, massage, acupuncture and yoga.

Not all treatments are available in all areas, but Mercy offers a variety of services across our locations. Your mental health provider can connect you to the services available in your area.

Connect to Mercy Experts

View More View More